Introduction to Ceramics: Vincent Burke, UTEP Dept. of Art

Introduction to Ceramics: Vincent Burke, UTEP Dept. of Art


[instrumental music] My name is Vincent Burke, and I am the head of the ceramics program here at UTEP. I am genuinely excited to welcome you to Introduction to Ceramics. In this class you will learn the fundamental forming techniques that are key to the design and production of both sculptural, and functional ceramic art works. To contextualize what we make in the studios, we will touch upon important highlights from the history of ceramics, with a special emphasis on contemporary ceramic studio practice. The history of ceramics is incredibly rich and vast. It dates back over 30,000 years. Throughout the history of our species, ceramic objects have served as a permanent record of our existence, and document important perspectives on survival, religion, language, politics, and culture. Ritualistic figurative objects, storage, cooking, and functional vessels. Writings on clay tablets, funerary sculptures, buildings made of clay brick or covered in clay tile, palace artworks commissioned by Emperor’s, shaws, and Kings. These are but a few of the many examples of clay’s importance as a diverse record of the past. Jumping ahead a few thousand years, artists today, like the artist before them, are embroiled in asking important questions of our time. Interestingly, a few of those questions haven’t changed all that much. 20,000 years may separate us from our early ancestors, but we still need shelter, we need to eat, we crave and value community, and we still question our existence. We will tackle some of these questions in class from our own 21st century perspective. Ceramics has found a favorite place in the contemporary artist studio, due to its unique responsive properties. Clay records every action from the artist, it can be formed into any shape or size. Working with clay, which is essentially earth, can be physically demanding and requires a hands-on approach, and it has a different ethos, or spirit, than another materials. Clay is also a great material to model ideas quickly, and sculptors use it as a form of drawing in real space. Contemporary artists are discovering new artistic avenues with clay, employing cutting-edge technologies with this ancient material. The expressive possibilities of ceramics are truly endless, and you are only limited by your imagination. I’m really looking forward to working with you. Let’s go make some art.

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